Tunbridge Man Donates Kidney To Save His Mother’s Life

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Front Page / Jan. 11, 2001 12:00am EST

Tunbridge Man Donates Kidney To Save His Mother’s Life

A Tunbridge man recently gave his mother the ultimate gift of love. On Dec. 28, Marshall Rediker of Tunbridge donated a kidney to his mother, Elizabeth Lentini, of Natick, Mass.

Rediker is not the first member of his family to donate a kidney. On June 12, 1997, his brother William, also of Tunbridge, donated a kidney to their sister, Nancy (Rediker) Sperlich of Natick, Mass.

"The doctors have told us it’s extremely rare for so many people in a family to match," said Marshall’s wife, Eileen.

Lentini had been in ill health for some time, due to polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which produces massive cysts on the kidneys that block the ducts coming out of the kidneys. Unfortunately, the disease is genetically inherited.

"Most of the females and one male in that family have been diagnosed with PKD," Eileen explained. "It lies dormant in some people. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with it over 20 years ago. The youngest person to be diagnosed with it in our family was three years old and she can expect to live to only about age 40 without a transplant."

In Lentini’s case, her disease progressed slowly over the years, but about six months ago, the level of creatnine (an enzyme in the kidney that breaks down toxins) in her body was so high that her doctors wanted to begin dialysis.

"She only had about 10-20% kidney function at the time," Eileen recalled.

Didn’t Ask

"She didn’t ask him, but Marshall called her and offered to get tested to see if he could be a donor. The doctors told us it was more likely for siblings to be a match than for a parent and child, but he matched."

Once the match was confirmed, Marshall began a series of further tests, including blood work, chest x-rays, a whole body MRI, and an arteriogram.

Thirteen family members traveled to Boston to be present in the waiting room when the transplant operation took place last month at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. Their family unity was readily apparent to others, since they all wore special T-shirts made by William Rediker’s wife, Karen.

"Mine said ‘wife of donor’ on the front and ‘daughter-in-law of recipient’ on the back," Eileen said. "Marshall’s operation took six hours and his mom’s took five. When he woke up in recovery, they wheeled him over to her and he said, ‘Everything will be okay.’"

And indeed, it looks like he’s right, since Eileen reports that her mother-in-law’s new kidney began to function "as soon as it was plugged in."

Back home now in Tunbridge, Marshall Rediker’s seven children and many of his friends and neighbors think he’s a hero, but he doesn’t agree.

"Mom gave me both of my kidneys and I’m just giving her one back," he said.

By Martha Slater

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